Story by Nikki Sherrill, NAIA Media Coordinator
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) With the weight of being the only undefeated team remaining in the field on their shoulders, the Fire of No. 2 Southeastern (Fla.) started their 2017 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship journey with a win over No. 7 Valley City State (N.D.). The Fire, now 27-0 on the year, pulled away in the third-quarter to earn the 87-58 first-round victory and punch a ticket to Friday for the second-round.
The Sun Conference regular-season and tournament champion, Southeastern, makes its first-ever advancement to the second-round of play at the national championship. The Fire will take on the winner of the No. 3 Southern Oregon (27-4) and No. 6 Northwestern (Iowa) game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. with the chance to move into the quarterfinals on the line. With the loss, Valley City State falls to 24-9 overall in their third appearance in Sioux City. The Vikings are now 0-3 at the championship.
It seemed to be a tale of two halves as Southeastern could not seem to distance itself too much in the first two quarters. The end of the first saw only a seven-point lead for the Fire, while the second half saw Valley City State outscore Southeastern by four points. However, the final two quarters were all Fire as they put out the Vikings, outscoring them 51-25 in the second half. The sharp-shooting for Southwestern sealed the deal to propel it into its first second-round as a program with the 87-58 final.
Leading the charge for the Fire was senior Sarah Green who recorded a double-double with 15 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Four other Fire members earned double-digits, with Bailey Hooker (12), Ana Richter (12), Alyssa Ramos (14) and Sydney Herbel (12) each including their name in the charge for Southeastern. As a team, the Fire went 34-of-61 from the field – good for .557 percent. They also connected on 10-of-18 3-pointers, with six in the second-half.
Valley City State was led by Georgia Williams who led all scorers in the game with 18 points. Williams went 6-of-11 from the field and accounted for four of the Vikings’ 3-pointers. Five other players earned scoring stats this contest. The Vikings shot .369 in the game and only cashed in on eight from beyond the arc.